Flagler Schools Superintendent LaShakia Moore, the Flagler County School Board and faculty, staff, family and friends of Flagler Schools were in attendance cheering on the best of the district at the 2023-2024 A Night of Legends – Teachers, Employees and Rookie Teachers of the Year Gala Awards Ceremony at the Fitzgerald Performing Arts Center on the campus of Flagler Palm Coast High School.

Allison Kucharski and LaShakia Moore

The end of the night filled with the shining stars of Flagler County Schools headlined with the announcement of Allison Kucharski of Rymfire Elementary School and Jimmy Sorrentino from Buddy Taylor Middle School as the district’s overall winners of the Flagler Schools Teacher and Employee of the Year, respectively.

Kucharski, a second-grade teacher at Rymfire Elementary School, has been working for the school since 2006. Previously, she was a substitute teacher and early childhood educator in St. Johns County. The ever-humble Kucharski said of her Teacher of the Year honor, "I am sincerely honored by the prestigious recognition of being named Flagler County Schools Teacher of the Year. I would also like to congratulate all Flagler nominees. I could not help but feel gratitude to all who have inspired me over my career. I am both humbled and excited by the opportunity to represent Flagler County and collaborate with teachers across the state."

Sara Novak Assistant Principal of the Year

Sorrentino serves as campus security advisor and is a coach at Buddy Taylor Middle School. Though this is only his second year with Flagler Schools, Sorrentino has already made a significant impact. He has been honored for his work as a coach in both Flagler and St. Johns counties.

Upon receiving the district’s EOY honor, Sorrentino said, "It was such a blessing. The feeling is overwhelming. The idea of representing Flagler Schools and this county is an honor. I take it seriously. I’m beside myself, knowing I can represent the district."  He added, "I’m here to teach kids respect and common sense. We went from (the school) with one of the worst behaviors to one of the best-behaved. I try to help teachers on how to deal with kids."

“This night is about paying tribute to all the work that is done by these dedicated educators who really dig deep to help every one of our students succeed,” Superintendent Moore said. “There is so much good work to be done in each of our schools. And it’s a true privilege to take one night a year like this and shine the light on so many who are helping our children see the future and make their dreams come to life.”

Nominees for the 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year:

●      Melissa Atkinson-Brock, Bunnell Elementary School

●      Vanessa Ajayi, Belle Terre Elementary School

●      Chris Knox, Old Kings Elementary School

●      Allison Kucharski, Rymfire Elementary School

●      Annette Clemons, Wadsworth Elementary School

●      James Thrall, iFlagler

●      Catherine Jerrells, Buddy Taylor Middle School

●      Erica Babcock, Indian Trails Middle School

●      Maria Godino-Faircloth, Flagler Palm Coast High School

●      Karin Feist, Matanzas High School

●      Bruce Winters, Flagler Technical College


Nominees for the 2023-2024 Employee of the Year:

●      Madelaine Martinez Ortega, Bunnell Elementary School

●      Lisa Meade, Belle Terre Elementary School

●      Alicha Willis, Old Kings Elementary School

●      Lillian Delgado, Rymfire Elementary School

●      Cassie Bennett, Wadsworth Elementary School

●      Bedie Barnes, iFlagler

●      Jimmy Sorrentino, Buddy Taylor Middle School

●      McKenzie Carter Spak, Indian Trails Middle School

●      Ginger Smith, Flagler Palm Coast High School

●      Maryann Mlinac, Matanzas High School

●      Allison Castorino, Flagler Technical College

●      Nathalie Piedrahita, Custodial Services

●      Lina Chhay, Food and Nutrition Services

●      Tony Coates, Government Services Building

●      Ron Cacciolfi, Plant Services

●      Dawne Gilpin, Technology/IS

●      Graca DeOliveira, Transportation Services

Jessica DeFord Principal of the Year

The open-to-the-public awards ceremony is an annual event, which also honored the reigning Flagler Schools Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year. Jessica DeFord, Principal of Belle Terre Elementary, and Sara Novak, Assistant Principal of Matanzas High School, were recognized at the gala for this year’s accolades. And, to seek out the best of the latest generation of teachers at Flagler Schools, the Rookie Teachers of the Year category was again presented to pay tribute to the most outstanding teacher at each district school with three or fewer years as a teacher with the district.

The 2023-2024 Rookie Teachers of the Year:

●      Haley Eubanks, Bunnell Elementary School

●      Selah Gargon, Belle Terre Elementary School

●      Brian Seijo, Old Kings Elementary School

●      Meghan Mazie, Rymfire Elementary School

●      Andrea Puckrein, Wadsworth Elementary School

●      Megan Kisner, Buddy Taylor Middle School

●      Hannah Anderson, Indian Trails Middle School

●      Ashlyn Wilkerson, Flagler Palm Coast High School

●      Janel Walker, Matanzas High School

“One of the real testaments to the work being done is in those who simply come to the event to cheer on the winners from their respective schools,” Moore added. “From cheerleaders chanting to cowbells ringing across the auditorium, the Gala is filled with more life and excitement than you can find anywhere along the coast. We want our teachers and staff to know just how important they are to our students, to all of us, 365 days a year!”